Skip to main content

Full text of "Commonwealth Futures : a community youth investment strategy"

See other formats



^ISObb 0Z7D 371? b 



A Community 

Youth Investment 


Special thanks to the Work Group whose members have 
provided generous assistance in the overall design and 
development of Commonwealth Futures: 

George Perry Maria Grigorieff 

Department of Education Office of Training & 

John Correiro, Superintendent Employment Policy 

Fall River Public Schools Frank Uamas 

Michael Devlin Department of Education 

Department of Youth Services Pamelia Barry 

Cecilia Rivera-Casale Department of Public Welfare 

Office of Training & Sheri Adlin 

Employment Policy Executive Office of 

Larry Feeney Human Services 

Department of Youth Services Erik Butler, Consultant 

Brandeis University 



A Community 

Youth Investment 


Commonwealth Futures is supported by a grant from the Edna 
McConnell Clark Foundation and is jointly sponsored by the 
Governor's Office of Educational Affairs, Robert Schwartz, 
Special Assistant; the Youth Coordinating Council, Harry John- 
son, Chairperson; the Massachusetts Department of Education, 
Harold Raynolds, Jr., Commissioner; the Executive Office of 
Economic Affairs, Joseph D. Alviani, Secretary and Cay Strat- 
ton, Associate Secretary; Executive Office of Human Services, 
Philip Johnston, Secretary and John Mudd, Undersecretary; and 
the Division of Employment Security, Marlene Seltzer, Director. 

The Center for Human Resources, Brandeis University provides 
administrative support and technical assistance. The Regional 
Educational Laboratory contributes additional technical 

Albert R. McMahill 

Project Director 

Terry L. Grobe 

Assistant Director 


Approximately one young person in four 
in our society fails to obtain a high 
mmmmm^ school diploma with his or her agemates. 

Although the intensity of public concern for drop- 
outs has ebbed and flowed during the past twenty- 
five years, the percentage has remained virtually 
unchanged since 1958. 

When a social problem remains that intracta- 
ble for that long, it suggests either that we are not 
serious about solving it, or that we don't know what 
to do. 

On the dropout issue, the former explanation 
is probably true, since successful retention or "alter- 
native" programs have existed across the country 
for many years. However, society has not paid a 
significant price for allowing one student in four to 
leave school without a diploma. Sufficient numbers 
of unskilled jobs have always been available to 
absorb large numbers of unlettered workers into 
the bottom rungs of the economy; and by the age 
of 23 and 24, over 90% of young people, with or 
without a high school diploma, have been success- 
fully assimilated into the work force. Therefore, we 
have not been greatly motivated to solve this 

What is different now that might make us 
more serious about tackling the dropout issue? Four 

things. First, the education of our workforce has 
become one of the most critical issues faced by 
American society. Because of international compe- 
tition, American industries will be able to compete 
only if they have highly skilled workers. Yet in every 
international comparison, there is a large gap 
between the basic skill level of our workforce and 
that of other industrialized countries. 

Second is the continued acceleration of the 
change from a manufacturing to a service-based 
economy. In Massachusetts, two-thirds of the job 
growth in the last eight years has been in industries 
requiring higher levels of education. 

Third, the rapid decline in the size of the youth 
cohort means that soon we are going to run out of 
skilled people. Massachusetts will have 43% fewer 
nineteen-year-olds in 1993 than it had in 1983. This 
means we will need every young person to be well- 
prepared and able to participate in our economic 

Fourth, as the youth cohort shrinks, it is becom- 
ing increasingly Black and Hispanic. This trend is 
especially true in urban areaSv where minorities 
already constitute the majority of school enroll- 
ments in twenty-three of the country's twenty-five 
largest cities. This latter point is critical. Among the 
overall dropout population, Black and Hispanic 
young people, especially those concentrated in cen- 
tral cities, are the least likely to find their way into 
the primary labor market by their early twenties, 
and therefore, are the most likely candidates in our 

society to join the ranks of the long term unem- 
ployed. Without an intervention now, we face the 
unwelcome prospect of significant labor shortages, 
especially for jobs which require basic literacy skills, 
existing side by side with an increasing pool of 
Black and Hispanic youngsters who lack the skills 
necessary to fill the jobs. 


Of all the states in the Union, Massachusetts 
may be best situated to mount a serious attack on 
the dropout problem. This is true for at least four 

First, the Massachusetts economy is extraordi- 
nary. Between 1983 and 1985, 233,200 new jobs 
were created, and the economy grew at a rate of 
8.7% for the two-year period. For now and for the 
foreseeable future, Massachusetts can credibly 
argue that every literate young person can be 
absorbed into the Commonwealth's labor force. 

Second, Massachusetts has, in the last three 
years, broken the back of an analogous social and 
economic problem that previously has seemed to 
be at least as intractable as the dropout problem: 
namely, the welfare problem. Since 1983, over 
30,000 women on welfare have been placed in 

unsubsidized jobs; over 85% of those whose case 
closed as a result of a full time job remained off 
welfare one year later; and the welfare rolls in 
Massachusetts have declined by more than five 
percent. Employment and Training Choices (ET) is 
important as a precedent, for not only can the 
same cost-benefit arguments be made for investing 
in dropouts as were made for welfare mothers, but 
also the program has demonstrated the utility of 
developing coordinated interagency strategies for 
tackling difficult social issues. 

Third, there is growing business commitment to 
education as a human resource investment oppor- 
tunity. Not only in Boston, where the Compact is 
well-known and accepted, but also elsewhere in the 
Commonwealth, corporate leaders acknowledge 
the role to be played by education and training in 
preparing tomorrow's workforce to respond to 
changing job environments. The Job Training Part- 
nership Act's impetus for organizing business com- 
mitment has paid off in the development of some 
exceptionally strong Private Industry Councils, 
which increasingly are becoming the center for 
community-wide efforts to tie education, training, 
and corporate development together. 

A fourth reason for Massachusetts to become a 
laboratory for implementing a statewide dropout 
strategy is that the Commonwealth is one of the 
few states that has provided new financial incen- 
tives for school districts to address this issue. 
Although Massachusetts has followed the lead of 


many other states in focusing its 1985 education 
reform legislation on the need to raise academic 
standards and stiffen graduation requirements, a 
competitive grants program has also been incorpo- 
rated within Chapter 188 which enables school dis- 
tricts with substantial concentrations of at-risk stu- 
dents to develop dropout prevention programs. 
Additionally, substantial new funds have been allo- 
cated through the Department of Public Welfare 
for employment, training, and education initiatives 
targeted to young parents which are supplemented 
by funds already available through the Job Train- 
ing Partnership Act. 


There is a growing consensus among educators, 
employment and training professionals and 
employers that strengthening the connection 
between education and preparation for jobs is the 
best single strategy for responding to the current 
crisis and opportunities. While there is some dis- 
agreement about the details of program 
approaches connecting younger students with the 
world of employment, the motivational and expe- 
riential value of this approach for potential and 
current dropouts to continue or return to education 
is undeniable. 

The ultimate long term goal of Common- 
wealth Futures, therefore, is to develop a coordi- 
nated statewide strategy to help those Massachu- 
setts' communities with the highest proportion of 
at-risk youth deal more effectively with dropout 
prevention and re-entry. Re-entry means not only 
returning young people to conventional high 
schools, but also helping them to take advantage of 
alternative education and training pathways that 
can lead to employment or post-secondary educa- 
tion or training. 

Locally, the goal of Commonwealth Futures is 
to help broad-based interagency community teams 
plan and implement long term strategies that will 
reduce the rates at which youth drop out of school 
and that will enable disadvantaged youth to 
become economically self-sufficient. To achieve this 
goal, these teams will need to coordinate the work 
of the various organizations and institutions that 
work with at-risk young people, and learn to max- 
imize the use of existing state and local resources 
to address the problems of dropout prevention and 
school-to-work transition. 

To assist local Massachusetts cities and towns 
with this enormous task, representatives of various 
state level youth serving agencies have developed 
a planning format for local communities that even- 
tually will enable a community to submit a single 
coordinated application for State assistance on the 
dropout issue and receive a coordinated State 



Commonwealth Futures is envisioned as a long 
term, four year effort. To assure its success, Gover- 
nor Dukakis has made Futures a priority project 
which will operate out of his Office of Educational 
Affairs. To assist with fund raising and provide assur- 
ances of top level collaboration, a Steering Com- 
mittee has been established to provide oversight 
and support. Serving on the Steering Committee 
are the Commissioner of Education, the Secretaries 
and Undersecretaries of Economic Affairs and 
Human Services, the Director of the Division of 
Employment Security, the Chair of the State Youth 
Coordinating Council, and the Governor's Special 
Assistant for Educational Affairs. 

A Work Group has been established to assist 
Futures staff with implementation tasks; serving on 
that group are representatives of all of the major 
youth serving state agencies, including the 
Department of Education, the Office of Training 
and Employment Policy, the Division of Employ- 
ment Security, the Executive Office of Human Ser- 
vices, and the Departments of Youth Services, 
Social Services, and Public Welfare. Additional 
members represent private business and local 
school systems. 



The Work Group, in collaboration with Futures 
staff, has accomplished the following set of tasks 
during the first year of operation: 

1. Identified approximately 20 Massachusetts 
communities with high concentrations of 
"at-risk" youth which will be eligible to 
participate in several rounds of Futures 
competition (See Eligible Communities for 
criteria utilized); 

2. Created a Resource Kit on the "at-risk" 
issue to assist the broad-based local Plan- 
ning Teams which will be assembled in 
each community; 

3. Developed a Program Application 
designed to judge the "readiness" of each 
community to participate in Futures at var- 
ious stages over the next four years; 

4. Participated in an Information and Techni- 
cal Assistance Conference designed to pre- 
pare community Planning Teams for partic- 
ipation in Futures; 

5. Reviewed local community Program Appli- 
cations and recommended to the Futures 
Steering Committee six communities for 
first round funding and support; 

6. Assisted with the development and imple- 
mentation of an intensive Planning Institute 
designed to help first-round communities 
create comprehensive, community-wide 
service plans for their "at-risk" youth 


7. Developed a single, coordinated applica- 
tion for State assistance on the dropout 
issue which incorporates three funding 
sources; and 

8. Initiated policy changes which resulted in 
new statewide JTPA eligibility standards for 

As Futures continues, the Work Group will assist 
with the following activities: 

1 . Initiate subsequent rounds of competition 

2. Review program applications 

3. Select communities 

4. Provide technical assistance to communities 

5. Develop the coordinated state response 

6. Create regional assistance teams 

In addition, six first-round communities have 
developed comprehensive plans designed to link 
existing programs and services and create effective 
local youth-serving systems. Examples of plans are, 
as follows: 

■ Chelsea is establishing a central Clearing- 
house for community-wide information and 
service referral. A data-base on all students 
K-12 will be developed by the public 
schools through the Clearinghouse. 

■ Boston is implementing an already existing, 
city-wide Dropout Prevention Plan; the 
Futures Coordinator works with city-wide 
and state funded efforts which will result in 
the expansion of ninth grade "cluster" 
programs and community-based, credit- 
granting alternative schools. 

■ Brockton is expanding services to "at-risk" 
youth by instituting a ninth-grade cluster 


program and an in-school alternative for 
junior high students in addition to Project 
Climb, an already established, off-site 
alternative junior high program. 

Fall River is creating a directory of avail- 
able services and programs for use by case 
managers and initiating community 
awareness and parent outreach programs 
which address "at-risk" youth issues. 

Lawrence is linking existing health educa- 
tion and pregnant/parenting teen pro- 
grams to provide comprehensive services to 
"at-risk" youth. In addition, an alternative 
school is being developed using re-directed 
local and state resources. 

Pittsfield is creating a decision-making 
group composed of the Mayor, School 
Superintendent, Private Industry Council 
Chair and Human Services Representative. 
This group will oversee a multi-grade level 
case management system which includes 
experiential curricula and support services. 


Commonwealth Futures envisions three basic 
incentives to encourage local community 

First, local communities will receive on-site 
technical assistance services from Futures staff and 
content-specific consultants tailored to specific local 


needs; attend intensive Planning and Development 
Institutes to assist teams with the development of 
comprehensive, community-wide service plans; par- 
ticipate in intercity peer assistance visits to share 
strategies and program models; receive scholar- 
ships to attend appropriate conferences or work- 
shops; and be identified across the State as well as 
nationally as being on the "cutting edge" in 
addressing an issue which is receiving ever increas- 
ing attention by key state, national, and interna- 
tional policy-makers. 

Second, communities deemed "ready" for 
Futures participation will have access to additional 
funds above and beyond those already targeted as 
a result of existing state and federal legislation. This 
past spring, the Governor requested one million 
dollars in the FY'88 state budget and the Edna 
McConnell Clark Foundation approved a $250,000 
operational grant for this initiative. These funds will 
support the Futures office, a program evaluation, 
and grants to first and second round communities. 

Finally, the possibility of a "simpler bureau- 
cratic life" at the local level is central to the State's 
interagency commitment to develop the single, 
coordinated application for State assistance men- 
tioned previously. 



For the initial round of Commonwealth Futures 
readiness competition which was conducted in the 
Fall of 1986, a total of twenty-one communities and 
two regional school districts were identified as con- 
taining high concentrations of youth "at-risk." Data 
utilized by the Futures Work Group as criteria for 
establishing eligibility included such measures as 
public secondary school attrition rates, AFDC case- 
loads, incidence of pregnant and parenting teens, 
poverty rates, a community's ability to support pub- 
lic education using tax base information, the per- 
centage of youth aged 18 and 19 in a community 
without a high school diploma, and the percentage 
of those youth without a diploma who remain 
unemployed and out of the labor force. 

Communities eligible for second round 
competition are: 




m Regional 













New Bedford 


North Adams 


12. Ralph Mahar Regional 

13. Somerville 

14. Southbridge 

15. Springfield 

16. Taunton 

1 7. Worcester 

It is possible that over the four year life antici- 
pated for Futures additional eligible communities 
may be added to the above list. 

Communities designated as eligible to com- 
pete should recognize that a first step in establish- 
ing their "readiness" is to create a high level broad- 
based local Planning Team composed of key 
representatives from public education, the business 
community, human service agencies, and local 
government which reflects the racial/ethnic compo- 
sition of the community. Additional members may 
be included as appropriate. 

PLEASE NOTE that Planning Team members from 
communities selected to participate in Futures will be 
required to attend an intensive Planning and Develop- 
ment Institute, scheduled for mid-November, 1987 at 
Brandeis University, in Waltham, MA 



As a result of competition in the Fall of 1987, it is 
anticipated that six communities in Massachusetts 
will be chosen for inclusion in the second round of 
Futures, with additional communities added over 
the four year life of the project. 

Four basic criteria have been established as a 
test of "readiness" and the Program Application 
will be reviewed according to these criteria: 

1. Clear evidence of high-level, broad com- 
munity commitment to acknowledge, 
understand, and solve the problems of 
"at-risk" youth; 

2. Realistic yet visionary goals and activities 
clearly stated in the Program Application; 

3. An ability and willingness on the part of 
key local leaders to leverage existing 
resources and create new sources of sup- 
port for the plan; and 

4. The strength, commitment and appropriate 
racial-ethnic composition of the Planning 
Team which will be charged with develop- 
ment and oversight responsibility for the 
comprehensive plan. 



1. Notification to Eligible Communities 

2. Distribution of Readiness Program Applications 
and Information Booklets 

3. Information and Technical Assistance Conference 
Hosted by Governor Dukakis 

4. Development of local Readiness Program 

5. Readiness Program Applications Due 

6. Selection of Eight Finalists and Semifinalists 

7. Interviews and/or Visits with Finalists 
and Semifinalists (as appropriate) 

Final Selection of Six Second Round Communities 






10/19 to 


Intensive Planning and Development Institute Mid-November, 
for Second Round Communities (REQUIRED) 1 987 

1 0. Local Development of Comprehensive Community 11/15 to 
Wide Service Plans in Second Round Communities 12/10/87 

1 1 . Local Comprehensive Service Plans Due 1 2/1 1 /87 

12. Approval of Comprehensive Service Plans 12/18/87 

13. Start-up of Comprehensive Service Plans 1/5/88 

14. Additional Readiness Competition, Technical 
Assistance Conferences, Intensive Planning 
Institutes, and Comprehensive Plan Devel- 
opment in Remaining Eligible Communities 1988 and beyond 


Susan Williams 
Williams & Williams Design 


Patricia Gould 
Gould Typography 


Commonwealth Futures 

Governor's Office of Educational Affairs 

State House, Room #173 

Boston, Massachusetts 021 33